The following scouting reports were taken from Pro Football Weekly's 2013 Draft Preview book, which is now on sale. You can order it today through the PFW Store, or by calling 1-800-FOOTBALL (Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT).
RB Montee Ball, #28
PFW Grade: 5.93
Ht: 5-101/2 | Wt: 214 | Sp: 4.48 | Arm: 325/8 | Hand: 9
Notes: The Missouri native was an all-state selection who rushed for 8,222 yards and 107 touchdowns in his prep career. Also lettered twice in basketball. Saw action in the final nine games of the 2009 season as a true freshman, rushing 98 times for 391 yards (4.0-yard average) and four touchdowns while grabbing nine passes for 92 yards (10.2-yard average) and zero touchdowns. Led the team in rushing touchdowns in ’10 after posting 163-996-18 (6.1) in 12 games with starts in the final four contests. Caught 16-128-0 (8.0) and did not play against Ohio State (coach’s decision). Enjoyed a record-breaking ’11 season after dropping 25 pounds, leading the nation in rushing with 307-1,923-33 (6.3) on the ground and 24-306-6 (12.8) through the air in 14 games. Also led the nation with 2,229 yards from scrimmage, broke the conference record for rushing touchdowns and tied Barry Sanders’ NCAA record with 39 touchdowns (33 rushing, six receiving). Won the Doak Walker Award (best running back) in ’12 after rushing 356-1,830-22 (5.1) and receiving 10-72-0 (7.2) in 14 starts. Became the NCAA’s career leader in touchdowns with 83. Left UTEP game in second quarter after taking a hit to the helmet and sustaining a concussion. Fumbled five times in 1,001 touches with a 5.6-yard rushing average.
Positives: Highly instinctive — good eyes and anticipation (feels creases and follows blocks). Plays faster than timed speed. Very good feet and vision to create yardage on his own. Outstanding athlete. Good lateral agility to re-direct and make the first defender miss. Can get skinny and squirt through holes or lower his shoulder and fight for tough yards after contact. Surprising toughness. Good balance and leg churn — can turn a one-yard loss into a five-yard gain. Attacks the line, can step in and out of holes and accelerates. Runs with urgency and smells the endzone. Displays a nice spin move and flashes a powerful stiff arm. Good hands — catches the ball very easily. Functional position-sustain blocker. Good football intelligence. Diligent weight-room worker and will push his teammates. Great attitude and approach. Excellent production. Outstanding ball security.
Negatives: Lacks top-end speed to pull away from defenders, nor is he overly creative to shake defenders in space. Not a true pile-driver to wear down defenses inside. Dropped a seam pass vs. Nebraska and hands are less secure downfield. Weight fluctuated early in his career and may require monitoring.
Summary: Started senior season slowly behind a depleted offensive line with an OL coach who was fired in Week Two but came on strong down the stretch and possesses the run instincts, agility and balance to become a complimentary producer in the mold of Broncos 2009 12th overall pick Knowshon Moreno. Known more for power than quickness early in his career, Ball re-shaped his body to become more of an every-down threat and proved capable of carrying a full workload.
NFL projection: Top-50 pick.
RB Marcus Lattimore, #21 (Junior)
PFW Grade: 5.30
Ht: 5-111/4 | Wt: 221 | Sp: 4.60e | Arm: 321/2 | Hand: 97/8
Notes: The South Carolina prep earned Parade All-American honors, was named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year and led his team to three state championship games, winning twice, while rushing for 6,375 yards and scoring 104 touchdowns in his career. Started 13 games as a true freshman in 2010 and rushed 249 times for 1,197 yards (4.8-yard average) and 17 touchdowns to win National Freshman of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year. Also grabbed 29 passes for 412 yards (14.2-yard average) and two scores, setting the school record with 19 single-season touchdowns. Sprained his left ankle in the second half against Kentucky and missed the next week vs. Vanderbilt. Suffered a concussion on a first quarter hit against Florida State in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Ran for a team-leading 163-818-10 (5.0) and caught 19-182-1 (9.6) in seven games during an injury-shortened ’11 season. Suffered a torn ACL in his left knee while blocking downfield against Mississippi State and missed the rest of the season. Continued his rehab into ’12 spring practice and did not participate but was ready to play in the fall, rushing for 143-662-11 (4.6) and grabbing 26-173-0 (6.7) in nine starts. Suffered another devastating knee injury, this time to his right knee, when he was hit low by a Tennessee defender and tore three of the four knee ligaments (including the ACL) and hyperextended the knee. Set the school’s career touchdown record at 38, despite only playing in 29 games. Fumbled six times (five lost) in 629 career touches and averaged 4.8 yards per carry. Medical exclusion at the Combine (right knee).
Positives: Very good overall size. Will square shoulders and make NFL runs. Tough, physical and highly competitive. Very good eyes and instincts. Anticipates angles and sets up tacklers. Accelerates quickly and makes hard cuts. Has a nose for the end zone and is a strong short-yardage/goal-line weapon. Flashes power to crease linebackers. Is alert in pass protection with a good base and anchor strength to take a charge. Exceptional makeup, mental toughness and overall character. Outstanding intangibles and leadership traits. Quick healer. Determined team leader.
Negatives: Runs a bit tall, tight-hipped and narrow-based and could improve pad level. Will struggle to avoid some direct hits and could always be plagued by injury concerns. Average speed (diminished by serious knee injuries) and is not a home-run threat. Is not built to carry a full workload and has a lot of tear on his body.
Summary: A one-cut, downhill slasher in a similar body build as Cowboys 2011 third-round pick DeMarco Murray, yet lacking the top-end finish speed. Has the desire and determination to overcome serious, potentially career-ending injury and has healed much more quickly than anticipated, but will have to enter the NFL on the PUP list and prove he can handle NFL rigors. Could be a late-round value pick with durability always looming as an issue.
NFL projection: Fourth- to fifth-round pick.
These scouting reports were taken from Pro Football Weekly's 2013 Draft Preview book, which is now on sale. You can order it today through the PFW Store, or by calling 1-800-FOOTBALL (Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT).